Barcelona fans celebrate league titles with players in parade

The players and staff of FC Barcelona men football team parade aboard a open-top bus followed by the women's team (out of frame), to celebrate their La Liga titles in Barcelona on 15 May 2023AFP

Barcelona players from the men’s and women’s teams lapped up affection from thousands of supporters in the city’s streets on Monday afternoon to celebrate their dual league titles.

Xavi Hernandez’s side beat Espanyol on Sunday to win the club’s 27th league title and first since 2019, while Barca’s women’s team earned their fourth consecutive Liga F win at the end of April.

The players rode in two open-top buses, heading from Camp Nou to the city’s Arc de Triomf monument five miles away, the streets lined with jubilant supporters despite the threat of rain.

The players and staff of FC Barcelona men football team parade aboard a open-top bus followed by the women's team (out of frame), to celebrate their La Liga titles in Barcelona

Defender Ronald Araujo was draped in a Uruguayan flag, while La Liga’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski, wearing sunglasses and a Barcelona scarf, waved to fans.

Coach Xavi, whose name was chanted frequently, threw down a can of beer to delighted thirsty fans below.

Players from both sides wore t-shirts proclaiming “the league is ours, the future too”.

Crowds increased as the buses headed along their route, to the main square, Plaza Catalunya, and then on towards the Arc.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (C) and the rest of players of FC Barcelona women football team parade aboard a open-top bus preceded by the men's team (out of frame), to celebrate their La Liga titles in Barcelona

“You can see the fans are very excited about it and obviously we are too,” goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen told club television.

“It’s a pride to share this with them and have them closer than ever.”

In front of the two players’ buses, another bus pumping out pop songs to set the mood led the way, cutting through streets filled with blue and red smoke.

Feeling among supporters was positive, as expected during a parade, although they expect more to come from both teams in Europe.

Barcelona’s women have reached the UEFA Champions League final, where they will face Wolfsburg in Eindhoven on 3 June, while the men were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage for the second season running.

“We say to the fans that we are celebrating today (Monday), but that we have a lot of our minds focused on Eindhoven and that we will give everything and more to make them proud,” two time women’s Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas told Barca TV.

Fans stood on balconies waving flags, while others clambered on top of bus stop shelters to get a better view.

“I’m certain of my hope for the men’s team (next season), for them to give a good account of themselves in Europe,” supporter Laura Nieto, 37, from nearby Terrassa told AFP.

“That they don’t do a bad job against big opponents, which is what’s been happening. And for the women, for them to continue like this - which is unstoppable.”

Messi chants

Some supporters chanted Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Lionel Messi’s name, hopeful that Barcelona can bring him “home” this summer at the end of his contract in France.

Others were more torn by the idea of Messi returning, despite president Joan Laporta pledging the club would “do everything” to sign him.

Barcelona fans gather to see both the players of FC Barcelona women and men football teams parading aboard two open-top buses to celebrate their La Liga titles in Barcelona

“On one hand I would like it because it would bring back a lot of excitement,” said Anabel Sanz, 16.

“But on the other, I think not, because it would mean rebuilding the team again and in the long run, that would hurt us, it would not be good.”

Messi, who turns 36 in June, is Barcelona’s all-time top goalscorer, and said a tearful goodbye to the club in 2021 when they could not afford to renew his contract.

“Barca have to reach the semi-finals and finals of the Champions League at least, and win more,” said Josep Martinez, 60.

“It’s difficult (to know if Messi should return), not because of his age. It’s about why he comes, what’s the goal of him coming?

“Is he coming here to fight for his place? ... For the team, I don’t know if it’s the best thing.”